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Types of Gluten-Free Flours And How To Use Them

Dec 30th, 2022

Looking to do some baking?

There are a lot of options when it comes to baking. There are many different liquids, fats and flours that can be used in many different ways and in different capacities. Here are a few of the more popular gluten-free flours that you can bake with and, of course, what they’re best to use in!

11 popular gluten-free flours 

Almond flour

Let’s start with a tried-and-true flour that’s popular even outside of gluten-free baking circles.

Almond flour is made with, you guessed it, ground almonds, so it contains all the good proteins, fats and vitamins that a handful of almonds provides. It gives a nutty, grainy texture that’s more dense than regular wheat flour, so it may not be the best flour for direct substitutions. 

It is, however, great for baking things like pastries, French macarons and German Christmas cookies!

Amaranth Flour

Amaranth flour is packed with calcium and protein, as well as a host of minerals and vitamins that are great for the body. 

It can be used as a wheat flour substitute in baking as long as it accounts for a quarter or less of the gluten-free flour mixture, so you’ll have to combine it with other flours for an effective recipe. Too much Amaranth flour will give your dish a strong nutty flavor and will make it more likely to burn, too!

Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat flour is a great all-purpose flour substitute, though its crumbly texture may require additional flours to support the structure. 

Rice flour

White rice flour is an excellent flour to use in everything from savory bakes to sweet pastries to soups, crackers, pizza doughs and more. It’s a great thickening agent and can be mixed with other gluten-free flours for the perfect cake or muffin texture. Because it’s so fine, it prevents liquids from separating and will hold the dough together very well. 

Compared to white rice flour, brown rice flour is a little more nutritious though just as smooth. It’s great for adding crispiness to pastries and cookies, and can be used as a 1:1 substitute for  regular wheat flour in gravies, soups and sauces. 

Corn flour

Corn flour is commonly used as a thickening agent in soups, gravies and sauces, as well as a structure for corn tortillas and corn breads. It’s not a great 1:1 substitute for regular wheat flour, so it’s best to add it into a mixture with other flours.

Coconut flour

This flour is beautifully light and flavorful, with just the right amount of coconut flavor coming out in the powdery flour. 

Because coconut flour is made from dried coconut flesh, it does become very absorbent when you add liquid to it and you’ll have to add a lot of eggs to make up for it. A lot, as in, 2 eggs per ¼ cup of coconut flour! It is best, then, to only use about ¼ to ⅓ cup of coconut flour when substituting it for regular wheat flour. 

Chickpea flour

Chickpea flour is very dense, so it's best to use it in breads, tortillas, flatbreads and the like where a dense interior structure is required. It probably won’t work well in a cake or cupcake, though.

Oat flour

Oat flour is made from oats — obviously. It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber and is a great substitute for wheat flour. 

If you do substitute it for wheat flour, you’ll need to add about 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder for each cup of oat flour, or add more yeast to your bread dough. Oats absorb a lot of the water that rising agents feed on, so you’ll need that extra bit of yeast or baking powder to make it rise properly.

Oats also don’t have the protein structure to create that web of gluten needed in breads, pastas or tortillas, so oat flour may be best suited for crumbly recipes like cakes, cookies or scones. Otherwise, you may have to mix in some other gluten free flour to create a proper bread dough.

Quinoa flour

Quinoa flour is packed with nutritious minerals, vitamins and fiber, as well as around 7.1 grams of protein per serving of quinoa flour!

More protein means more structure, which is good for baking things like breads, muffins, pizza doughs and the like, as well as thickeners in sauces and gravies. If you’re cooking with it, you can use a 1:1 substitute for regular wheat flour, but if you’re baking the quinoa flour should account for no more than ¼ of the flour mixture (otherwise it will be too dense).

Sorghum flour

Sorghum flour comes from a grain, but unlike many other grains, it doesn’t contain any gluten! It’s an ancient grain and has been around for at least 5,000 years, appearing in recipes for breads, cakes and pastries for centuries.

It does make a pretty dense flour, though, so it’s best to mix it with other gluten free flours for the best results. 

Tapioca flour

Tapioca flour is very fine and has little to no fats or sugar, so it's a relatively easy flour to substitute for wheat flour. You can use about a 1:1 ratio of tapioca flour to regular flour if you’re using it for baking, and you can use a 2:1 ratio of tapioca to cornstarch if you want to use it as a thickening agent.

So, there you have it! These are some of the more popular gluten-free flours out there that you can use as an addition to your wheat flour baking recipes or in a completely gluten-free recipe. Experiment with the flavors and textures, and see how it goes!

Happy baking!

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Featured photo courtesy Pixabay/kaboompics

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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